Independent groups have spent a combined $27 million on state and local ballots next week with the vast bulk of it going to pro and con cases for North Jersey casinos, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
“The overwhelming majority of spending derives from groups in favor or opposed to casinos operating outside of Atlantic City,” said Jeff Brindle, Executive Director of the Commission.
More than $24 million has been spent by groups favoring and opposing casinos in the northern part of the State, accoring to ELEC, with Trenton’s Bad Bet, a political action committee looking to defeat the casino ballot question, forking $14.4 million so far. According to reports filed as of November 2nd, Our Turn New Jersey, in support of the public question, spent $8.6 million attempting to secure passage of the referendum.
Brindle said that the spending on the casino question alone sets an all-time record for spending on ballot questions.
“The $24 million spent on the casino question dwarfs the inflation adjusted $5.6 million spent in 1976 allowing casinos in Atlantic City,” said Brindle.
In addition to the casino referendum, over $1.9 million has been spent in support of the statewide public question involving the Transportation Trust Fund. Engineers Labor Employee Cooperative thus far has spent $1,250,523 favoring passage of the ballot question with Forward New Jersey adding $667,769 to the cause.
In total, an additional $541,532 has been spent on a variety of local referendums.
“The spending on statewide and local ballot questions by independent groups follows a recent trend witnessed in state and local elections,” Brindle said. “This increased spending by outside groups in state and local elections threatens the historic role played by political parties and the ability of candidates to control their own campaigns.”
In the gubernatorial and legislative elections of 2013, over $41 million was spent by outside groups. They accounted for one-third of all spending in the Assembly election of 2015, most significantly in a few targeted districts.
SPENDING ON CASINO BALLOT QUESTION THROUGH NOVEMBER 2, 2016
Trenton’s Bad Bet $14,427,555
Our Turn NJ $ 8,614,665
Hotel Restaurant and Club Employees and Bartenders Union Local 6 UNITE HERE $ 500,000
New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO $ 500,000
DGMB Casino LLC $ 25,594
Statewide Public Question #1 Total $24,067,814